The New Venture Competition lets student startups compete for money and exposure

Photo Courtesy of

The all-freshman team has designed the “SNTRY” bike lock, which combines two different lock types for increased security. Photo Courtesy of

UCSB’s Technology Management Program (TMP) will host the New Venture Fair Thursday evening at Corwin Pavilion, allowing student teams to present startup business plans as part of the 17th annual New Venture Competition.

The annual competition begins in Fall Quarter when teams are established and ends in Spring Quarter with the presentation of the top six startup ideas. This year, the first all-freshman team has made it to the New Venture Fair with their business idea, SNTRY, a new bike lock that incorporates a U-lock with a wire lock to make it more secure and easy to use. The SNTRY team consists of four members: Yash Agarwal, Daniel Garcia, Karan Maitra and Van Vo.

Karan Maitra, SNTRY team member and first-year mathematics major, said he and his team had begun designing their product on their own in response to bike theft on campus before they knew about the competition.

“When we designed it, we didn’t know about the New Venture Competition,” Maitra said. “We took it to Chancellor [Henry T.] Yang, and he introduced to the people in charge of it and we took off from there.”

The fair will give competitors in the New Venture Competition a chance to display startup plans to evaluators who will judge the 20 teams based on their business ideas and presentation quality. From there, only six of the 20 teams will be selected to move on to the final round of the competition in May at which point they will compete for the final cash prizes.

According to Yash Agarwal, SNTRY team member and first-year economics major, he and his team were at a slight disadvantage due to lack of experience, but with the success of their product, they were able to overcome that obstacle.

“Being freshmen, we don’t have much experience in all the areas,” Agarwal said. “One of the criteria on which judges judge upon is the experience of the team, and on that we are severely lacking because we’re all freshmen.”

Don Lubach, associate dean of students was impressed by SNTRY’s product presentation, especially since the designers are both freshmen, and praised the New Venture Fair for its focus on helping students gain early exposure in a variety of fields.

“Two of the Venture Fair contestants dropped by my lecture and shared their product and enthusiasm with my class,” Lubach wrote in an email. “Karan and Yash looked so confident, I was ready for them to ask me for a check. And they are first-year students.”

“TMP and events like this fair are perfect counterweight to a research university,” Lubach wrote. “Our faculty focus on new knowledge and daring technology and this keeps our students a few years ahead of the market. It’s like our students have a lens into the future.”

For Agarwal, the potential prize money is secondary to the exposure his team’s product has gotten over the course of the competition process.

“The main thing everyone is fighting for is exposure,” Agarwal said. “There are going to be six teams going into the finals, and every team is going to get at least $2,500 … but the main thing is having exposure to the public and investors, so grabbing their attention and getting them to invest in the startup.”

“Seven months ago, we just had a shitty drawing in our hand,” Agarwal said. “And now, after seven months, we have a prototype, we have a C.A.D. model, we have 3-D models, we have everything.”

A version of this story appeared on p. 3 of the Thursday, April 28, 2016 print edition of the Daily Nexus.

Correction: An initial version of this article stated the bike lock incorporated a “Y-lock”. The lock incorporates a wire lock.

Correction: An initial version of this article only mentioned two members of the SNTRY team, Karan Maitra and Yash Agarwal. The other two members are Daniel Garcia (CCO) and Van Vo (CMO).